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Forget It, Fearmongers: GMOs Are Safe; The Real Problems Remain: Bipartisan Collusion, Right-Wing Extremism, Restrictive Nomination Requirements

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Forget It, Fearmongers: GMOs Are Safe

In his recent op-ed (“Why Label GMOs in Our Food?”, October 10, 2013), Jack Kittredge engages in the same shady, scientifically illiterate tactics that have unfortunately become a halmark of the anti-GMO movement.

The “more and more studies” he alludes to have consistently been found wanting (see the Valley Advocate’s own Caleb Rounds’ take on the matter), and the one study he does bring into focus is vague to the point of meaninglessness. Yes, bacillicus thuringiensis (bt) might show up in our bodies, but unless you provide evidence that it’s at levels that are harmful or that it’s toxic to humans to begin with (it’s not), it’s irrelevant to discussions of public health.

In the next breath we have this gem: “What do [biotechnology companies] know about these products and why don’t they want us to know it? Does it remind you of the tobacco industry?” Ah, a fearmongering twist on the Socratic method. Very nice. Never mind that there remains no evidence suggesting that GM crops pose a greater risk to human health than other food sources.

The [force behind the] labeling push is in reality just one industry looking to saddle their competition (biotech companies) with a regulation that will undoubtedly scare uninformed consumers into the waiting arms of organic food farmers and purveyors.

There is broad scientific consensus on the safety of GM crops. Unless the left wants to take up the tinfoil hats and start marching to the same drum as right-wing climate change deniers, we need to start calling out articles like this one for what they truly are: baseless propaganda.

The Real Problems Remain: Bipartisan Collusion, Right-Wing Extremism, Restrictive Nomination Requirements

In his recent Between the Lines column about the government shutdown (“Corrective Action, October 10, 2013), Tom Vannah misses a few points. Bipartisanship is how we got into this mess. Rightwingers have been against letting working people get anything since time immemorial. Republicans were against the New Deal under FDR in the face of widespread unemployment and, in some cases, death due to starvation.

Obama spends most of his time as president doing the kowtow to these people who simply want to be medieval lords. He established such a history of bowing to their demands that they thought he would surely do it again. Most of the things I do not like about the Affordable Care Act are things that were put into it to placate the Republicans. It will be the only useful thing to come out of this administration, and they want to abolish it after having agreed to it. If they get their way, the minimum wage and Social Security will be next, which will be followed by even more outsourcing of jobs.

The Democrats also helped the outsourcing to take place. We need a party responsive to the average American. While Vannah mentions elections, he does not mention the nomination process, which is where the restrictions are. Here in Massachusetts a statewide office requires 10,000 signatures to get [a candidate] on the ballot! Other offices require less, but they are all excessive. No one is addressing this point.

The excessive signature requirement is the barrier—not campaign spending, not filing enough reports, just getting the excessive number of signatures needed even to get one’s name on the ballot.

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C.E. Dunne is clearly an unabashed GMO promoter, so it makes sense that he parrots several pro-GMO PR talking points and characterizes GMO critics as leftwing wingnuts. Surveys have repeatedly demonstated that more than 90% Americans of all political persausions favor mandatory labeling of GMO food and food ingredients. What I find particularly striking is Dunne's absolutist pro-GMO position…are there NO problems at all with GMO food and feed? Surely there must be some…

How quickly we forget the 37 Americans who died in 1989 and 1500 who became crippled, many permanently, after eating a commercially marketed amino acid and food additive, L-tryptophan, that had been manufactured with genetically engineered bacteria by the Showa Denko company. Then there’s the incident with Starlink corn, not approved for human consumption but appearing in corn products like tacos and creating allergic reactions…

Also notice the author focuses narrowly on GMO crops and avoids any discussion of how they are grown and what chemicals are used with them. The truth is that since most GMO corn and soy have the Roundup Ready trait, these crops continue to have rising residues of Roundup (glyphosate), so much so that the EPA recently raised the allowable Roundup contamination again for many food and feed crops. There are many peer-reviewed studies that demonstrate the dangers of Roundup to livestock, humans and and the environment, including widespread contamination of groundwater and rivers, and very high toxicity for amphibians. The combination of Roundup and Roundup Ready corn and soy has also led to superweeds that are increasingly immune to Roundup applications. The industry answer? Introduce a new trait in GMO corn and soy that resists the effects of a stronger herbicide 2,4-D. Sound familiar? It was mixed 50/50 with 2,4,5-T to make Agent Orange that created multigenerational birth defects in thousands of Vietnamese and Vietnam veterans exposed to it.

For readers who would like to see a well documented report that debunks several pro-GMO myths, see:

http://www.earthopensource.org/index.php/executive-summary

Many issues regarding GMO food and feed safety remain unresolved, but there are enough studies to suggest caution in ingesting GMO food and food ingredients. In fact, earlier studies led to manadatory GMO labeling in the European Union 16 years ago. The continuing appearance of more studies that raise concerns about GMO food and livestock feed are an inconvenient truth for pro-GMO types. Their response to roundly criticize such studies as pseudo-science and authors as having a anti-GMO agenda. If that’s the case, why should we believe anyone with a pro-GMO agenda?

This is why I and millions of others cannot believe absolutist claims that GMO foods are perfectly safe to grow and consume, We think otherwise and spend our food dollars accordingly. That’s why foods labeled as USDA Organic and Non-GMO-Verified have an annual growth rate of 12-13%, meaning that by 2017, 30% of the food eaten by Americans will carry these labels… We're not going to trust the same companies who told us DDT, PCBs, Agent Orange and Aspartame were safe and instead are adopting a more cautious approach this time with GMOs.

Posted by lannit on 10.16.13 at 11:41

And the fearmongering goes on. Don't for a moment let the anti-science propaganda of IANNIT fool you. Earthopensource a reputable impartial source of information? HAHAHAHAHA

Don't let anyone try and take advantage of you for a moment, there is not a single peer reviewed scientific journal published that substantiates his tinfoil hat paranoia. The scientific method isn't a philosophy you can pick and choose to obey when it suits your needs. Don't take my word for it, don't take Iannits word for it, go and do some independent research and read the peer reviewed articles, you will find your perspective enlightened.

Whether IANNIT chooses to accept logic and the scientific method is clearly a personal choice, but it hasn't done the flat Earthers a lot of good over the years to ignore scientific consensus (despite their insistence the Earth is not round).

There will always be those with a sinister motive who will seek to seperate you from the facts so they can profit off of your fears and ignorance, don't fall prey to them.

Posted by tiedyeguy on 10.16.13 at 12:12

Iannit engages in what is called "Gish Gallop," which RationalWiki defines as the "technique of drowning the opponent in such a torrent of half-truths, lies, and straw-man arguments that the opponent cannot possibly answer every falsehood in real time." The term was coined by Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education. She named it after creationist Duane Gish.

Since I can't address all the nonsense in the post, let me quickly address two:

Starlink didn't actually cause any allergies. The CDC tested all 15 or so people who claimed to have suffered allergic reactions and found there was no evidence they did.

The L-tryptophan incidents had nothing to do with GM. It had to do with a bad fermantation process where the company didnt follow proper procedures and created impurities.

On the anti-gmo issue, the liberal/left have allied themselves with the tinfoil hat crowd. They've jettisoned rational thinking and bought into a con because it fits their worldview. Since corporations use the technology, it must be bad.

All this plays into the hands of the organic industry who are the major promoters of the anti-gmo cause. They are promoting fear in an attempt to gain maket share and frighten consumers away from the competition.

Posted by Bernie Mooney on 10.16.13 at 13:15

I found this submission so amusing on so many fronts. If he or she is so certain that it's safe, then I am sure he or she supports food labeling so those who wish to educate themselves and choose for themselves what to ingest are able to do so. Monsanto and the other big food manufacturers must do this already in well over 50 countries, so why are they spending millions to not have to share with Americans what they are selling to us? Instead of proving GMOs are safe through unbiased scientifically sound studies, they spend their money on fighting food labeling, and small family farmers, but we won't even get into that today. Does this make sense if they are right and their GMOs are safe?

Solutia, which is a divestiture of Monsanto because the lawsuits against Monsanto threatened the companies bottom line, agreed with its parent company Monsanto to pay $700 million to settle a suit against it for intentional PCB dumping that spanned 40 years. Monsanto produced 99% of all PCBs in the United States. Based upon internal documents in the public domain from the lawsuits, it knew for almost a decade before stopping production that PCBs were in the environment and hazardous to human health. One court just ruled recently it could not claim no duty was owed, certainly not when it knew! This is a company you can trust! And, everyone connected to and supporting such wonderful contributors to society, I would trust too, wouldn't you? Solutia is of course well known around here, as in 2007 it's Springfield, MA facility, now owned by Eastman, ranked 4 out of 5 as far as releasing the largest quantity of environmental releases on and off site.

Monsanto's CEO made about 14 MILLION last year and in the first quarter of 2013 their gross profits were 1.4 BILLION, so the actual cost of adding these items to their ingredient lists cannot be too financially daunting for them, right?

Finally, I wonder why so many other places have banned GMOs? You can see a partial list At .....http://www.organicconsumers.org/gefood/countrieswithbans.cfm?

Just saying.....critical thinking is rather good for you on so many levels!

Posted by Kim in Easthampton on 10.23.13 at 15:53
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